“It’s not always about sex, sometimes the best type of intimacy is where you just lay back, laugh together at the stupidest things, hold each other, and enjoy each others’ company.” ~ lebanesebreezeee
For years Aidan Swift has been controlled by Piers, a man who has told him what to do, how to think, and what to feel. Piers has warped Aidan's mind so much that he's never considered living any other way; that is, until Aidan discovers a disheveled man in the top floor of the Trowchester Museum, who is looking for his glasses which happen to be hooked in the top of his shirt. Even though he'd been warned not to talk to anyone, Aidan is amused and can't help but disobey Piers. James is just too charming. What starts with a casual conversation, quickly grows into the only friendship Aidan ever had.
As Aidan races home from the museum, his mind is racing, calculating how to explain things. Pier's multitude of rules makes it hard and Piers is unpredictable. Aidan is never quite sure when he's done something wrong. In order to escape what will surely be a severe beating for breaking them if he's caught, he tries to think of an excuse for being late. When Aidan gets home, Piers is waiting for him. Trying to avoid more trouble, Aidan tells Piers he's been jogging. Unfortunately, Piers knows exactly where Aidan has been because of the GPS tracker on his cell phone. Aidan endures yet another beating; then is used by Piers in a cruel, degrading manner. This happens so frequently that it's no shock; Aidan just wants it to be over. No matter how hard Aidan tries, he can't seem to stop being a “bad person” or from doing everything wrong all the time, a concept Piers has deeply ingrained into Aidan. He's convinced he owes Piers and no one else will want him. Piers told him that other people are to be avoided because they are mean and hateful. By now, Aidan knows that's not necessarily true. When Piers sees a picture of him and James taken by newspaper photographers, Piers loses it and beats Aidan so badly he ends up in the hospital. Even then Aidan doesn't tell the authorities that it was Piers who attacked him.
James is intrigued by Aidan, but disturbed about how his lover treats him. Of course James can't say too much; his partner is Dave Debourne, a rock star, who has become so narcissistic that James doesn't even recognize him anymore, much less love him. Yet, he remains with Dave in spite of it all. When the band is performing in Oslo, James pays him a surprise visit and finds Dave in a seriously compromising situation. James is so disgusted, he tells Dave they're over and leaves, halfway hoping that Dave will stop him or will be regretful later and contact him to apologize as he's done in the past. Believing Piers has gone on a week-long business trip, Aidan goes back to the museum. James is elated, at least until he realizes what bad shape Aidan is in; then he is appalled. James talks to Aidan about escaping from Piers, but Aidan tells him it is too risky and that Piers would kill both of them, but promises to think about it. When Aidan comes home, the last thing he expects is for Piers to be waiting for him. He restrains Aidan to “take care of” later and goes after James. Piers is convinced that they are having an affair. Although Aidan is chained to a weight bench; regardless of what he has to do to free himself, it's absolutely imperative that he do so. Aidan has to warn James. He can't lose this wonderful, smart, sensitive man, especially since it would be his fault!
There is a lot more to this complex drama than I can mention in this review, many twists and turns and surprises. It's difficult to imagine anyone going through what Aidan did, but an important thing to remember is that even though Aidan was forced to have sex against his will, this horrible experience isn't what caused Aidan's asexuality; he just happens to have no sexual desire. It breaks my heart to think there are others out there suffering, because they think that they are wrong or broken when, in reality, they are exactly as they are meant to be. Alex is a wonderful, descriptive author who portrays so much with her words. I admit knowing very little about being asexual, but I am not sure introducing asexuality was Alex's only point. She also reminded me that sex does not necessarily mean love and shouldn't be the yardstick by which we measure happiness. Loving someone deeply involves respecting their wishes and feelings, but doing so without neglecting our own. This is the third story in the 'Blue Steel' series. It may be read alone, but having read the other two books gave me a better feel for the city of Trowchester and its residents. If you like stories with drama, abuse, murder, suspense, and a be-true-to-yourself theme, you may enjoy 'Blue Steel Chain.' Thanks, Alex, for the action-packed, informative story with the against-all-odds happy ending.